By Leah Teague
Baylor Law School held its winter commencement on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. The graduating class selected Professor Jeremy Counseller to address the graduates as the commencement speaker. Over the years, Professor Counseller has been selected on many an occasion as a favorite speaker. On this day, he tied two important topics together during his speech: civility and leadership. You can view his speech below, or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZC495AXXtA. It is only nineteen-minutes and well worth it!
Professor Counseller is always entertaining. This occasion he was particularly inspiring, earning him a standing ovation. His message began with laughter as he announced to the audience that his intent was not to impart wisdom as is expected of graduation speakers. “Don’t you think that I should have shared it with you by now,” he quipped. Instead he offered a request – really a challenge of sorts. His request was for the graduates and all those of their generation to address to two important issues: lack of civility and lack of strong leadership to solve the problems that older generations left unanswered. Issues such as the national debt, climate change, and politics. “As lawyers, you will play an outsized role in bearing that responsibility,” he added.
He noted that civility means more than formal pleasantries. He emphasized the need for the next generation to be “good citizens, especially in the way we conduct our public and political discourse.” He observed that the graduates’ generation will be forced to make the tough choices to solve hard problems that previous generations could not. He blamed the lack of progress on “an erosion of civility and the quality of our public and political discourse.”
Your generation has what it takes to improve civility in this country and solve the big problems.”Professor Jeremy Counseller
Professor Counseller denounced negative descriptions of the graduates’ generation. Instead, he offered his endorsement. “I do think you do have the courage to walk the hard paths.” His advice in dealing with the criticism of their generation: “I hope the criticism of you puts a chip on your shoulder… Your generation has what it takes to improve civility in this country and solve the big problems.”
He ended by expressing his faith in our Baylor Law graduates. “Baylor Law School doesn’t give diplomas to snowflakes,” he noted. “So, I want you to… show us how it is done. Become the leaders we all need you to be.”